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Chernobyl +25: Newspaper Article w/ Translation

Posted on April 21, 2011


Ukrainian National Museum in Chicago

+25 Article

“The Ukrainian National Museum in Chicago opened an exhibition entitled “Chornobyl + 25” on April 8, 2011. As visitors enter the exhibit hall, their attention is drawn to female mannequins, dressed in regional costumes of Polissia, Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Zhytomyr, holding hands and encircling a symbolic sarcophagus dedicated to the loss of life in Chornobyl , a quarter century ago. Garlands of apple and cherry blossoms, symbols of life, love, and hope drape down from a winged bird high above, in honor of the people and their land, those affected by radiation not only in Chornobyl, but also at Fukushima Da-Ichi in Japan. The artistic canvases of Petro Yemetz (Kyiv), Anatole Kolomayets (Chicago) and Yuri Viktiuk (Los Angeles) dedicated to the Chornobyl tragedy symbolically frame a wealth of photographs that were gifted to the Museum by photographers who recently visited the region. Included in this exhibition is a display of Soviet-era medals and awards that were given to the “liquidators,” a collection created and donated to the Museum by Dr. Yuri Podlusky.

“Orest Hrynewycz, vice-president of the Ukrainian National Museum in Chicago, opened the exhibit by observing a moment of silence in memory of those who have been affected by nuclear disasters. As a specialist in the field of nuclear engineering and the safety of nuclear power plant construction, Mr. Hrynewycz gave a step-by-step presentation on how the nuclear disaster at the Chornobyl Power Plant happened, and contrasted this with the current difficulties in Japan. Father Myron Panchuk, a doctoral student of depth psychology, presented an analysis of the ongoing impact of the Chornobyl trauma not only in terms of the explosion itself, but also as a dimension of the Russian colonial oppression of the Ukrainian people. Vira Byy, a graduate of the Ukrainian Catholic University and the University of Syracuse, spoke about her visit to the village of Opachychi, located in the Zone of Alienation, and her encounters with the so-called “samosels” who reside there. Vira travelled from Kyiv for the opening of this exhibition and not only contributed many of her own photographs which depict “samosels” life, but also composed the logo for this event, a sunflower with the nuclear trefoil sign superimposed upon it. Her photographs evoke an artistic passion for capturing the suffering and resilience which characterize the people of Polissia who willingly “bear the cross of a post-Chornobyl Ukraine.”

“More than 300 photographs were submitted for this exhibition by a diverse group of photo journalists including Myroslav Hanushchak, a journalist from the ICTV Television Network in Kyiv, Anton Vlaschenko who researched the biodiversity of the Chornobyl region, Halina Klyashko, an actress from Holland who assisted an international team of radiologists, Daria Kalyniuk, a Fulbright scholar who was born in Zhytomyr, Alex Nazarenko, a programmer from Ternopil who resides in Chicago, Konstyantyn Vorona, from Ukraine’s General Consul in New York, and the Consulate General of Ukraine in Chicago.

“In attendance at the exhibition opening were members of the Japanese-American community. David Tanimura, an archivist at the Japanese-American Museum in Chicago, greeted opening night attendees and shared his personal family history. His roots are in Hiroshima, where most of his family died from radiation poisoning caused by atomic bomb. “Only two countries – Ukraine and Japan have experienced nuclear catastrophe. Radiation is invisible, innocent people are dying. We are here together in order to remind the world that the danger lies everywhere. Our planet is our home. We are called to protect it from the forces of nature, and from actions which are not ruled by reason.” Junko Kajino and her husband Edward Koziarsky are filmmakers who are planning to travel to Fukushima in early May to document the lives of Japanese farmers. They actively engaged exhibition participants in conversations about the Chornobyl catastrophe, and the devastation to the land and the people of Polissia.

“The 80 photographs displayed at “Chornobyl +25”, capture images of the reactor site and the sarcophagus, of the abandoned city of Pripyat, the historical city of Chornobyl, and of the people who returned to their homes illegally and have been stigmatized as “samosels.” Life in the “zone of alienation,” where more than 160 villages and towns of Polissia were turned into a nuclear waste dump, is a legacy which the former Soviet Union left us. The Ukrainian National Museum in Chicago invites you to reflect upon this legacy of loss and destruction by visiting “Chornobyl + 25”. This exhibition will run through May 25. The Museum is located at: 2249 W. Superior St, Chicago, IL 60612.”

Maria Klimchak, Museum Curator


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